That's more than non denying others the chance to read a specific book at the library -- which 99.999% wouldn't have read even if they could anyway.
* "How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe", a good profile from Vanity Fair, 2015: https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/10/how-tom-wolfe-bec...
* "Tom Wolfe", an early profile one year after the Kool Aid Test had been published, from The Harvard Crimson, 1969: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1969/5/8/tom-wolfe-pbibn-...
* Photos of him in 2013 from Paris Match: https://www.gettyimages.com/event/tom-wolfe-paris-match-issu...
* "Tom Wolfe - The Art of Fiction", from Paris Match, 1991: https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2226/tom-wolfe-the...
“The Republican Party as now constituted is obviously too stupid to survive…. What is to be done? Of course, that was Lenin’s line and the only lucid one he ever wrote. The answer is nothing. America’s position is unassailable. We are the imperial Rome of the 3rd Millennium. Our government is a CSX train on a track. People on one side (the left) yell at it, and people on the other side (the right) yell at it, but the train’s only going to go down the track. Thank God for that. That’s why I find American politics too boring to write about. Nixon is forced from office. Does a military junta rise up? Do the tanks roll? Give me a break.” [February 28, 2000.]
^from the Vanity Fair article
At 2 or 3 or 4 a.m., somewhere along in there, on August 25, 1966, his 48th birthday, in fact, Leonard Bernstein woke up in the dark in a state of wild alarm. That had happened before. It was one of the forms his insomnia took. So he did the usual. He got up and walked around a bit. He felt groggy. Suddenly he had a vision, an inspiration. He could see himself, Leonard Bernstein, the egregio maestro, walking out on stage in white tie and tails in front of a full orchestra. On one side of the conductor’s podium is a piano. On the other is a chair with a guitar leaning against it. He sits in the chair and picks up the guitar. A guitar! One of those half-witted instruments, like the accordion, that are made for the Learn-To-Play-in-Eight-Days E-Z-Diagram 110-IQ 14-year-olds of Levittown! But there’s a reason. He has an anti-war message to deliver to this great starched white-throated audience in the symphony hall. He announces to them: “I love.” Just that. The effect is mortifying. All at once a Negro rises up from out of the curve of the grand piano and starts saying things like, “The audience is curiously embarrassed.” Lenny tries to start again, plays some quick numbers on the piano, says, “I love. Amo, ergo sum.” The Negro rises again and says, “The audience thinks he ought to get up and walk out. The audience thinks, ‘I am ashamed even to nudge my neighbor.’ ” Finally, Lenny gets off a heartfelt anti-war speech and exits.
The telephone blasted Peter Fallow awake inside an egg with the shell peeled away and only the membranous sac holding it intact. Ah! The membranous sac was his head, and the right side of his head was on the pillow, and the yolk was as heavy as mercury, and it rolled like mercury, and it was pressing down on his right temple… If he tried to get up to answer the telephone, the yolk, the mercury, the poisoned mass, would shift and roll and rupture the sac, and his brains would fall out.”
I think "From Bauhause to Our House" is more important because we can survive a period of terrible art: most people will simply ignore it and when it is over you can throw most of it into the dumpster easily enough.
Unfortunately we are not free to ignore the work of architects, and correcting their mistakes will take us centuries.
my favorite part was how mies van der rohe liked buildings that looked “authentic” with undecorated steel beams visible, but because it was against the fire safety code in the usa he just glued some i-beams to the side of his chicago skyscrapers. the guy literally decorated buildings to represent a lack of decoration. this is the guy famous for the slogan “less is more.”
Oh, and the book was hilarious! It's rare that I find myself laughing out loud at literature, but Wolfe's descriptions were just so absurd and clever.
If you can find a torrent, I highly recommend Michael Prichard's Books on Tape recording. The quality is low but the narration is just exceptional.
I haven't read it, but I subscribe to author Ryan Holiday's reading list email newsletter and he had this to say when the book came out:
"A nice new read about the Silicon Valley written by Wall Street Journal reporter (and Tom Wolfe's daughter). It's more pleasant and less cynical than Chaos Monkeys but probably a little more naive too. I was interested in the fate of the various Thiel Fellows since I've met a few of them over the years and was a college dropout myself. Wolfe makes the point that dropping out or getting one of these fellowships has become just as much of a 'track' as the Ivy League these days. Anyway, some great sentences in this book. Not sure how it will stand up over time but was worth a couple hours of my time."
I'm not familiar with Ryan Holiday's work, but this almost sounds like a backhanded compliment, especially when you consider how long (and much work) it takes to write a passable book.
It's no longer about Alexandra's book; it's about Ryan's tight schedule.
This is the single most elucidating thing written about the cultural matrix of Silicon Valley.
While big companies came out of that era, examined at the time and surrounded by since-deceased dotcom peers, I don't fault a reasonable person for concluding as he did.
In addition to all the excellent suggestions on this page. Also check out The Painted Word (1975).
Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Tom Wolfe and The Painted Word
Art of Fiction Interview with George Plimpton
Frankly, Bonfire is worth reading just for unforgettable lines like this one: "If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested."
"One breath of scandal, and not only would the Giscard scheme collapse but his very career would be finished! And what would he do then? I’m already going broke on a million a year! The appalling figures came popping up into his brain. Last year his income had been $980,000. But he had to pay out $21,000 a month for the $1.8 million loan he had to take out to buy the apartment... Of the $560,000 remaining of his income last year, $44,400 was required for the apartment’s monthly maintenance fee… $18,000 for heat, utilities, insurance and repairs, $6,000 for lawn and hedge cutting, $8,000 for taxes. Entertaining at home and in restaurants had come to $37,000. This was a modest sum compared to what other people spent..."
The Devil's Candy is about how a writer was given full, uncensored access to the production from inception to release, because everyone thought it was going to be a puff piece of a book about how great everyone was. But in reality, the author got to see how a combination of creative egos and studio mismanagement (plus bad casting, a compromised script, I mean, EVERYTHING) created one of the biggest hollywood flops to that point. It's such a good read.
I haven't read the book or seen the movie (yet) but The Devil's Candy was an incredible look into how badly things can go in Hollywood. You can probably generalize it to any large project where multiple competing interests all have a stake.
Not that this is at all bad, but it was a change from what I was otherwise used to reading as a teenager.
The book was pure capture-the-moment 1980's New York City, and the movie captured none of that and featured Tom Hanks' worst work since Bosom Buddies.
I saw the movie when it first came out but never read the book. I thought the movie was good and couldn't understand why it got so many bad reviews. What made the book so much better?
The subtle nuances and key moments that I love are rarely translated to the screen. It's perfectly understandable, because they're two very different forms of fiction and the movie rarely has time to be much more than the Cliff's Notes version, but it's still disappointing.
When I've seen the movie first, I can appreciate it for its own sake.
(So far, I have had one exception: No Country For Old Men - I think the movie captures the book just perfectly.)
Maybe, absent a book, the movie was just mostly forgettable. There were better films involving 80s financial types like Wall Street. But we’d probably remember Bonfire as a minor film that largely wasted star power through miscasting etc. rather than a bomb.
(Although one never knows whom to believe when reading self-justifying finger pointing like this.)
"The facts are clear. Chuck Yeager proved incapable of doing the job. He was totally outside his element. He was a natural pilot who had learned by experience and feel, but never really understood stability, just ‘sensed’ how airplanes would act, but aerodynamics and space dynamics are night and day. If he was to fail, I expected it to be outside the aerodynamics region.
But not even that can excuse his accident, which was his fault, alone and was an error of bad pilot technique during normal, aerodynamic flight. His shortcoming was inability to gain and maintain the 70 degree climb angle. That required strict and delicate airplane control. No more and no less."
If you like Yeager, I highly recommend reading his memoirs - it makes The Right Stuff seem like an amateur hour aviation book.
I doubt that.
The Right Stuff is not simply a book about Yeager. And while Yeager is a fascinating and exciting man and truly a hero, Tom Wolfe is one of the greatest non-fiction stylists of the twentieth century. I would be very surprised if Chuck Yeager could write, or commission a ghost writer, with one tenth the chops of Tom Wolfe.
Sure, if all you're looking for is style.
As a person interested in aviation (and a good story), 'Yeager' is my favorite. The Right Stuff was a good experience, but I probably won't re-read it again.
I disliked "Bonfire of the Vanities" because it was clear to me that Wolfe had fallen into self-plagiarism. It felt to me that the same fate befell Hunter Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut. It didn't take away the pleasure of reading their earlier works, but prompted me to look for different voices.
“thieving pile or albino warts”
"No one becomes Tom Wolfe overnight, not even Tom Wolfe" — William Zinsser.
> In an author’s statement for the reference work World Authors, Mr. Wolfe wrote that to him the term “meant writing nonfiction, from newspaper stories to books, using basic reporting to gather the material but techniques ordinarily associated with fiction, such as scene-by-scene construction, to narrate it.”
The problem here is that New Journalism was never really meant to replace more traditional journalism, is generally considered to have died out well before the current era of curated "journalism" designed to confirm one's beliefs, and, well was nothing like contemporary "fake news" anyway.